Darwent rocks mixed bonspiel
Five ender ices Wilf Gunderson in Sunday's final
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 30, 2013 06:00 am
A five ender by the Dean Darwent rink left the Wilf Gunderson foursome drowning their sorrows in the Solo Liquor Mixed Bonspiel final Sunday.
Darwent’s draw for five in the third end stirred the drink for the winning Avonair lineup of third Holly Whyte, second Warren Cross and lead Heather Steele at the St. Albert Curling Club.
“We got lucky to get away with five there,” Darwent said after the 8-1 rout. “We just put our rocks in good positions and made it tough on the opposition.”
The handshakes started after a steal of one in four by Darwent against the hometown rink of Gunderson, third Shelley Williams, second Don Johnston and lead Marlis Gunderson.
“We knew it was going to be a tight game, but unfortunately the way the third end unfolded that’s just the way it goes,” Gunderson said.
When questioned about the fateful five ender, Gunderson shrugged his shoulders and asked himself, “How did that happen?”
The perennial President’s Cup contenders in the St. Albert club playoffs were in a heap of trouble after the steady Williams uncharacteristically sent her first delivery through the house without rearranging some hittable Darwent rocks.
“We were going rock for rock, hit for hit and then Shelley flashed one and then her next one we thought we would try and minimize the damage and it overcurled and rubbed so now they’re laying three or four,” Gunderson said. “With my first one I thought I would try and duplicate (the same shot by Williams) and I rubbed. With my last one I thought I would try and get a bunch out and I nosed the one and only got one out so now they’re drawing for five.”
The majority of rocks in the rings during the game-breaking end were scattered on the left side of the centre line on the unforgiving sheet four surface.
“It was tricky in places but we got into a situation where a lot of the rocks were half behind a guard, which made it difficult for the opponents,” Darwent said. “We kind of kept coming around and getting half around and changed the complexion of that end.”
The next end there were few rocks in play and all that was left for Gunderson with the hammer was an unsuccessful raise takeout for two.
“They were just hitting everything in sight so it was hard to get things going,” Gunderson said.
In the first end Darwent scored a deuce with the hammer and in two Gunderson was forced to settle for one.
“We had one buried in the first end and we were putting up guards after guards and he was able to angle one back in and stuck it and his shooter went over and hit another yellow one in so they had a very good first end that way. We thought we might force them to one or steal one and they ended up getting two,” Gunderson said. “In the second end they got a really nice roll in behind a guard so I had to draw for one.”
Darwent advanced to the final after knocking off four high-profile St. Albert rinks: Buddy Beley, Frank Lane, Dave Klatchuk and Warren Sadoway.
“I don’t know if we cleaned up, we just ended up on the right side of the edge this weekend,” Darwent said.
A steal of one in the extra end in the quarter-finals put Darwent on top against Klatchuk, who beat Sadoway 5-3 in seven ends in last year’s final.
“They gave us all we could handle. They played very, very well and in all honesty it was probably a little bit luck was on our side to sneak out of that one with a win,” Darwent said. “Overall we played pretty well. It’s really the first weekend that we’ve ever played together the four of us.”
In the Avonair mixed Thursday league, Darwent plays second and Steele is the third for Doug McLeod and Whyte is the third for Trent Kowalczuk.
Cross also skips a men’s team in the Edmonton Super League with Darwent as his third.
“We’re trying to put together a team to go into the mixed playdowns so we wanted to get some games,” Darwent said. “The gelling factor on our team was very high for the first weekend we’ve ever played together so that made it easy and a lot of fun.”
Family connections in St. Albert made the bonspiel an easy choice for the Darwent crew to make their mixed debut together.
“It was a great bonspiel. We really enjoyed the whole weekend. First class set of people out in St. Albert. They put on a great event. We had a great supper last night and the theme was a retro dance party so we had a lot of fun with that too. Thanks to everybody in St. Albert and the club here.”
As for the runners up, Gunderson’s gang – with Johnston filling in for the vacationing Dan Magotiaux – defeated Dan McKinley, Stacy Burzminski and Ryan Franchuk for a berth in the final.
“We were on the short side of the draw so it wasn’t as many games but we curled fairly well. This morning (in the semifinals) we had a really good game with Ryan Franchuk. We ran them out of rocks coming home in eight,” Gunderson said.
HOG LINES: The four-day bonspiel featured 22 mixed and 10 beginners’ rinks. Last year’s draw included 21 mixed and 10 beginners’ rinks.
This year’s event winners were Kris Watkins in B, Klatchuk in C, Manny Albert in D, Adam Restall in AA, Brent Biollo in BB and Della Hahn in CC.
The next bonspiel is the St. Albert Centre ladies Feb. 21 to 24.